Mafia Puppet

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49 | depthful conversations

HE HAD SAID yes.

Fabio was driving us back from an elite mall near by. As he drove us home I saw people moving out of the way. They all glanced down but not out of respect. It was out of fear. Everyone knew who we were.

Fabio was over speeding and he passed police cars who didn't do anything once they saw it was us. Antonio could literally get anything done here. It was his domain and I wasn't sure whether to boast about that or be sad.

Amalia sat beside me. She had invited Lisa and Stella as well. They were nice, especially Lisa. Stella was more of the brooding type but she was okay. We talked and we had fun.

I got myself a dress for the party. It was a simple dress that was very conservative. It was okay and expensive which would shine Antonio's status. I didn't know whether he'd like it or not but Mother always told me to be safe then sorry.

"I really like the dress Francesca bought. It's gorgeous," Lisa gushed.

"I know right!" Amalia said. "The dress was very costly even."

"It was a waste of money," Stella deadpanned out of the blue. "Gorgeous but a waste."

"How?" Lisa asked, furrowing her brows.

Stella looked at me. She sat opposite Amalia and I in the limo. "She's never going to wear it again."

They looked at me to answer that. I shrugged but I couldn't deny that it was true. I couldn't wear a party dress again to another party.

"Depends. I might just donate it."

"The girl would be lucky to have that dress. It's worth thousands," Lisa said.

I chuckled. "Yours too, Lisa."

We gossiped all the way. From outfits it went to our husbands and the mafia, and from there it went to children. I placed a hand on my womb. I didn't know what to think. I missed my period or maybe it was just late. I was going to buy a pregnancy stick but everyone had eyes on me. Most of the people here knew that we were part of the mafia. And if I really was pregnant, I couldn't afford anyone knowing.

I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to raise my child with joy but I feared its future. I didn't know what Antonio thought of it either. He said he wanted me pregnant but I didn't know whether it was to secure his position or not. I knew that was the reason but I could only hope that it was not.

• • •

I placed the bags in our my room. The party was tomorrow and I still needed to decide my look. This party was important for my husband so it was important for me as well. I wasn't ready to face him yet though. He confused me. I didn't know how to behave around him. I didn't know where we stood anymore. I wanted to say sorry but was I really at fault?

Maybe. Maybe not. I didn't know anymore.

I jumped when someone stormed inside my room and stiffened even more once I noticed it was just my husband. We looked at each other for a moment before he looked at the mess I made on the bed.

"I'll pick it up," I muttered in case he wanted to sleep.

When he didn't reply I saw his eyes lingering on the dress I had bought. It was a long ball gown. Personally, I thought it was beautiful and looked good on me but it wasn't really my type. It made me feel like a prude. But then I remembered my feelings weren't really taken into consideration. It wasn't by Father.

Stop comparing me to your Father. I flinched. Maybe I did compare him to Father a lot, but was that my fault? The only male figure I had ever known my whole life was Father. Who else could I compare him to?

No one, a voice in my head said.

"That's the dress for the party," I said.

He shut the door and silently walked toward the bed where the clothing was left. I turned around. It was no point in me irritating him anymore. I wanted his forgiveness, not his anger.

I looked through my makeup kits for the most suitable colours. I wanted to look perfect. The woman's beauty defined her man's power. I had to look perfect. I needed to be everything he would need so he wouldn't go looking somewhere else. Though I knew that wasn't possible because a man was thought to be powerful if he could control his wife and mistresses. I didn't want to share him. It was sad that I couldn't trust him alone with another woman.

I stood up from the floor with the golden pallets and a dark red lipstick. The dress I chose was black so I needed something matching it. I had bought golden strap heels to go with the outfit.

I walked past Antonio and placed the make up on the bed. I wanted to look at him but decided not to. Mafia men held grudges and I didn't know how to make this one understand that I wanted things fine between us again.

I regretted taking the note but I didn't regret hiding my sister's plan. I didn't know the plan but I knew it was going to happen.

I jumped in surprise when I felt hands around my waist. Antonio placed his head in between the crook of my neck and gave me a back hug.

"A-Anton—," I stuttered like a fool.

He cut me off. "Just let me hold you."

I decided to keep mum and let him do whatever. I missed his warmth and the small, innocent touches we shared before all this. It had been days since we had a normal conversation. Well, as normal as we can be.

I leaned back against him and placed my hands on his, silently telling him that I missed him.

"Antonio..." I trailed off. He tightened his arms around me.

"I'm sorry," he mumbled onto my neck.

For a second I thought I misheard but when he kept repeating what he was saying, I knew I didn't.

"Baby, what...?" I was so confused.

I turned around in his arms and placed my hands on his chest before looking up at his expression. His hands stayed on my waist and pulled me even closer. He wasn't crying, obviously. Crying was for the weak, that was what we were taught since birth.

I cupped his cheeks. I didn't like him apologizing to me. It felt weird—very weird. Mafiosi were not supposed to apologize to their woman. That was what I was taught. "Don't. Please," I muttered.

He titled his head down and our foreheads met. He pushed my hair back before his hand cupped my cheek.

"I'm sorry, Francesca," he repeated. His voice was more firm now than before as if he had finally caught hold of himself.

"Why?" I asked. "I should be the one apologizing. I lied."

I saw a small smile make its way to his lips and my heart jolted. I had never seen him smile before and it felt like this was a dream. His smile was contagious and I couldn't help but smile back. Despite that when I last met him I was scared for my life and with just a spec of his attention and I was putty in his arms. I was truly pathetic.

He pulled me closer and I wrapped my hands around his neck. I liked our closeness. Actually no, I loved it.

"You didn't answer my question," I muttered.

"Yeah." His breath fanned my face before he continued. "I made you vulnerable, bambola, by making you a witness to those murders."

My hands tightened around his neck. I didn't know what to say. "I know you did what you had to do. I just don't understand why you are sorry now."

He bit his lip before answering. It was so quiet that if I wasn't this close then I wouldn't have heard him. "You needed to know what you are into. I'm sorry that I'm not really sorry for doing that, as much as you would hate me."

I raised my brows. This was major progress. "Hate is a very strong word, Antonio, and I don't think I have ever hated you. Even after you did what you did. I just couldn't hate you," I said. It wasn't a lie. Despite every time I cried because of him I just couldn't bring myself to hate him.

Maybe it was the wedding vows that stopped me to do so or the lessons Mother taught me in how to behave around my husband. From the moment my fate tied with his, I was his. There was no point in mourning for something that couldn't be changed and I wasn't a griever.

"Why?" he asked, sounding genuinely interested.

"Because you've been good to me. Better than you would be." I swallowed. "I feel safe around you, Antonio, very safe and I don't feel that with many people."

His grip in my waist tightened and what he said next shattered me. "Francesca, I shouldn't have slept with you."

Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry.

But tears welled up in my eyes anyways. I was just so tired of all this. Of him. Every move he made, everything he did, was always so well thought out. It was just so manipulative.

"Was this all planned?" I asked, attempting to put space between us but no avail. He didn't let me go. "I know I shouldn't have hid things from you and I am sorry and I know I was going against the code and I know that I should've told you about Arianna, and that stupid note, but I just couldn't! She's my sister for God's sake and I was worried that you might kill her or tell Father who'd gladly do the job for you. Father's getting her married to Scream! Scream, the Terror of New York is what they call him! He's going to ruin my little sister and I can't just let that happen."

He stayed silent and pulled me into a warm embrace. Tears streamed down my face. I was such a hypocrite because I didn't push him away. I wanted him despite all of his wrong doings.

"Bambola, Arianna escaped," he finally said after a moment. "And I need you to know that I'm not going to leave her unscratched."

I froze and I instantly tried to push myself away. Key word: tried. I wasn't successful though. "Antonio, let me go! Where's my sister? What are you going to do to her?"

When he finally let me go, I took a good look at his face while stared down at me. "Calm down," he said after a moment, furrowing his brows.

This flared my anger even more. "Don't you dare tell me to calm down!" I snapped.

He gripped my arm tightly and pulled me closer. "Watch it, Francesca."

I stopped acting out instantly. Not because he told me to but because of how immature I must sound. Acting like this would make me take rash decisions and that was not good for me. I knew where it ended me last time and this time I wasn't going to fall for it. Arianna escaped. She must've had something in plan.

I thought through my options but then I realised there was still nothing I could do to help her.

He softened at my fragile state. I wasn't afraid of him but for my sister. If they found her now they'd kill her. I needed to calm down because if I didn't I might just provoke him to do something in spite.

"What are you going to do to her if you find her?" I asked him quietly.

"When we find her, she'll regret running away. I assure you that, bambola." And the look in his eyes didn't say anything otherwise. But I just had a feeling he wasn't telling me the whole story. There was more to it. A lot more. Antonio wasn't stressed that she slipped out of his hands. It was almost like he had planned her escape.

And I instantly knew, there was more to Arianna's story than he was letting on and I wasn't sure whether I was ready to know.
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